Theatres in Ayrshire ~ 1800 - 2014

24 Wellington Square, Ayr.

Ayr County Council acquired number 24 Wellington Square in the early 1970's and established a community education service in the building.  Formerly in the possession of the Territorial Army, the premises included a drill hall to the rear.  This was converted into a games hall.

Other rooms in the building, overlooking Wellington Square, provided a cafe and were let to groups for meetings and cultural activities.  At one stage, Ayr Sketch Club held their weekly meetings in the building.

In the summer of 1974 the theatre group that became known as Theatre 24 was seeking rehearsal and performance space.  They were invited to use the premises at Wellington Square and, for a very brief period, were the resident theatre group.   The group were also providing a children's theatre project in the Whitletts Community Centre.

The Theatre 24 performances were in the autumn of 1976. Although initial rehearsals were based on the use of the Games Hall, the group moved their presentation to an annexe parallel to the hall.  This area had been used as a shooting range by the army.  Although there was limited headroom, it was possible to create a traverse stage with rostra and a basic lighting installation.

The performances competed with games activity in the adjacent hall.; One performance was cancelled to allow old time dancing class to continue in the main hall.  The Disorderly Women was the only play performed at this venue.

Theatre 24

Many of the group members had been students at Craigie College of Education where they were active in the college drama group and the Saturday Children's Theatre Group.  The core of the group graduated in the summer of 1974 and progressed to their probationary year in Ayrshire primary schools.  Other members were completing their final year on the Bachelor of Education course run jointly by Craigie College and Strathclyde University.

The group was relatively short lived as the membership were dispersed to posts throughout the West of Scotland.  Apart from a single season of Children's Theatre in Whitletts, The Disorderly Women was their sole production.  The group commenced rehearsals on a second production, Was He Anyone? by N. F. Simpson, under the direction of Jill Summer Smith, but the production was abandoned early in the rehearsal period.  In 1975, the children's theatre project was also abandoned.

Many of the Theatre 24 players appeared with Compass Club and the Craigie College Theatre Group in subsequent years.

The Disorderly Women was directed by Mike Bailey.  Mike had been cast in the role of the Principal Private Secretary for a production of the play planned for the Little Theatre at RAF WIldenrath, a NATO base in West Germany.  That production was abandoned in favour of the Whitehall farce Simple Spymen after the Commanding Officer withdrew permission for the performance due to the subject matter of the play, particularly the references to substance abuse.

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